The North’s last home game was abandoned, as the referee injured his calf, so this week’s fixture had that ‘first home game of the season’ feel about it. The North had assembled a squad that resembled more of a first team than that of recent weeks but today’s opponents, Cambrian Welfare RFC, were going to be another stern test. The visiting team had won their first two games of the season, acquiring the four try bonus point on both occasions.
The first half comprised of two very different periods. The first 25 minutes was heavily dominated by the away team, creating several chances that they should have scored from. It took some heroic defensive efforts to keep them at bay and it was a credit to the defensive efforts that Cambrian took penalty kicks when they were on offer. Cambrian Welfare came out of the blocks fantastically well, running the ball from all areas of the pitch. It is obvious that they have a settled back line with some talented and strong runners out wide. They made a number of breaks but couldn’t capitalise as the scramble defence battled defiantly. They took the first three points of the game from in front of the sticks.
As the pressure continued to pile on the home side, it was not long before the first score of the game came. It was however, Cambrian’s fleet footed loose head prop that made the incisive break rather than their promising looking backline. A decent set of hands down the blindside saw him run clear and pass the ball to a support runner to canter in under the sticks. The kick was successful and they led the game 10-0. The game could have all been over at this point as on a separate occasion a similar move developed and the visiting team’s lock cantered in under the posts untouched. Rather than sticking the ball down sensibly he took his time and casually strolled towards the centre of the field. The North’s JR made an incredible try saving tackle as he put his body between the ball and the ground and held him up. I’m sure some of the Cambrian boys will not let the second row forget this moment, particularly as they fell one try short of achieving a third successive four try bonus point. Another penalty kick was converted and despite their overwhelming dominance they only led the game 13-0.
The last 15 minutes of the second half however belonged to the home team and brought them back into the game. It started with a long range penalty kick from Jordan Gibbs to give the boys the little bit of hope and spark them into life. After reducing the deficit by three points the North kept hold of the ball and applied some pressure of their own. The North’s pack started to assert some dominance in the set piece and made solid yards close to the ruck. A number of phases were played out where the home side used their strong runners close to the ruck to gain ground. It resulted in a scrum five meters out and gave them a perfect opportunity to launch an attack from which they scored their first try of the game. The scrum was dominant and it created a superb platform for number 8, Lewys Jones, to pick up and hold off the defensive efforts to score the try. Jordan converted and the game was now back to 10-13.
From the kick off Mike Williams ran the ball back well and put the North straight back onto the front foot. After keeping hold of the ball again and going through some simple patterns the North again found themselves within striking distance. Another scrum deep inside the opposition’s twenty two set the platform for Lewys’ second try too. The dominant scrum meant that skipper, Dominic Scoble, called for the scrum when given a penalty rather than go for the three points. The decision proved to be a good one as the North were awarded penalty after penalty. It was from one of these penalties Jordan Gibbs took a quick tap and run the ball to the defensive line offering players to run a line off him. Once Lewys had made the decision to straighten up it was always going to be difficult to stop him scoring from that distance. He dotted the ball down and we led in the game at half time 15-13.
After showing Cambrian Welfare too much respect in the first half we managed to get ourselves back into the game. The second half proved a little difficult as a number of key players took knocks and either had to come off or nurse themselves through to the final whistle. This being said, we did not give up and the true grit and determination saw them holding a losing bonus point up until 5 minutes from the end. The scrum was a real positive from the game; it was dominant throughout and it gave a solid platform to attack from. As the game progressed however, Cambrian were able to capitalise on the amount of space that developed out wide as they scored another two tries.
There were a couple of half chances during the second half for the North but unfortunately the last pass didn’t quite go to hand and the Cambrian Welfare defence manage to shut down most of the other promising moves. An excellent effort from all of the boys involved in today’s game. They showed a real commitment to the cause and were unfortunate to come away from the game without any points. Many positives and of course areas to develop, lets make the effort to get to training to prepare for Fairwater next week.
Many thanks for Cambrian Welfare for making the journey and participating in what was a great game of rugby. Appreciation also goes out to everyone else who make match days happen including; the referee, the bar staff, the catering team, the groundsmen, coaches, players and of course the fantastic support we receive. Chin up lads and onto next week!